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James Guy on learning from your mistakes and making yourself a better athlete

Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer James Guy recently spoke with some of the country’s rising stars within swimming.

The 26-year-old shared his experiences and some important advice he has learned throughout his career so far.

One of those key messages was to learn from your mistakes as well as learning to ‘say no’ and prioritise making yourself a better athlete.

He reflected back on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and admitted he was disappointed not to have come away with a gold medal that time round.

Learn from mistakes

He said: “I got two silvers, not what I wanted to do and looking back, this is what I wanted to make sure and correct for Tokyo.

“You never ever have a bad day. You come into training, game face on – this is your time to work, this is the time to make ourselves a better athlete. Now I know what not to do again.”

As he pulled up an image of his dejected face following a fourth place finish in the 200m Freestyle Olympic final, he continued: “That face, that upset face, I wanted to make sure that did not happen again at the Olympics.

“Seeing that face of disappointment I’m thinking ‘oh what’s happened?’ You know exactly what’s happened – you’ve not trained hard enough, you’ve not done the gym properly, you’ve been missing sessions out, you’ve not done the extras.

“All these things add up over time and it builds up slowly.”

Learn to say no

Now a double Olympic champion, Guy shared some advice on mind set and how to prioritise the right things.

He said: “When you start being in the pool and you’re tired and you don’t want to train. What are you going to prioritise?

“A party that’s not going to help you? Or a late night watching a film? Or actually, leave your phone outside your bedroom, not being on TikTok and going to bed at half nine.

“When I was 15 or 16 – or even a bit younger – every single night I’d leave my phone or IPad, whatever it would be, leave it outside my room because I knew I had to be up at 5:10am rather than being on Snapchat or Instagram scrolling through.

“I thought ‘I’ve got to get to bed early – we’ve got a big kick set in the morning and I’m absolutely shattered’.

“You’re thinking ahead all the time. What’s going to help you perform better in training to give you the better outcome when you race?

“Rather than being up at half 11 on TikTok and you being tired for the next day, and then you’re tired in the pool – everything relays onto everything you do.

If you think negatively, negative things will happen.

“But learn to say no. Say ‘ah no sorry, I’m going to go to bed I’ve got training in the morning’.

“It’s a big thing. And when you do the session the next morning you think actually, that was the right call going to bed early. These things are really, really important.”